A new Michael Grant should be something to look forward to. You know you’re in for no nonsense action, pace at superspeed and a bunch of tough no holding back heroes and/or heroines. And yes, BZRK does deliver on those fronts… and yet… it falls completely flat and is, yes, I’m saying it: dull.
First of all, BZRK is “typical” Michael Grant and I mean this in both the good and the bad way. BZRK is full of action, the type of sci-fi novel with an idea so completely whack that its only option is to focus on the action, rather than the characters. In terms of what is good, that is about it, though. It’s a fairly original concept: nanobots & biots are employed to wage a war “down in the meat”… and that is to be taken literal, as BZRK introduces us to a war that is waged ‘in the body’, a war about “mind control”. A bio-techno-war waged so humanity can be in control of its own mind again, so we are led to believe. Yes, it sounds completely out of your mind, pardon the pun. Obviously, what is needed here is a very visual sort of writing, which in a way you get (lots of descriptions of the hows). But here’s the kink: all of that makes the book boring and all of this is why this will work better as a movie or “a real visual experience”, than an experience on a piece of paper… Which also brings me to the bad…
Structurally, BZRK is a mess. It’s just all over the place and it’s hardly ever clear when we ‘switch sides’ or who does what for what reason. Motivations are not made clear at all. But where Michael Grant lost me completely was with the characters. Truth be told, some of this is also noticeable in the Gone series, but for some reason the story there is compelling enough that you can forgive the flaw… Here on the other hand, the lack of character development can’t be hidden with a convincing story. Just like in Gone, Grant introduces a character, makes us care for it for like 10 pages then kills them off. I have to say that I probably stopped caring about “the characters” as a whole when the plane crashed and the 2 McClures died… Because the actual protagonists Sadie McClure (aka Plath) and Noah (aka Keats), well they are just boring as hell and are just a means to an end, the end being the bio-techy war stuff and proving a sci-fi point about the link between ‘our exposed bodies’, ‘technology’, and ‘mind control’.
BZRK was a disappointment, no two ways about it. Maybe it’s because sci-fi is not really my stuff, or maybe it’s because this book is both structurally and character-wise totally underdeveloped. What I am sure of though, is that the cat will gladly stick to Gone.